Flowers for Sailors

When humans started sailing the seven seas 50,000 years ago, a raft was probably the only flotation they had at their disposal, yet they made it from Africa to Australia probably by island hopping. Still, the unique mode of transportation led to a need for some standard and some unique medicines. One of the more unique ones would be to cure seasickness. Not so obvious is that dysentery can be deadly if there is no ability to rehydrate with plenty of water. Finally, after sitting on a cramped raft, painkillers and substances to desensitize the the body to pain would be valuable.

Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation that can lead to severe diarrhea. Patients typically experience mild to severe abdominal pain or stomach cramps. In some cases, untreated dysentery can be life-threatening, especially if the infected person cannot replace lost fluids fast enough and there is not much fresh water on sea voyages. Amoebic dysentery is caused by a type of amoeba, and is more common in the tropics.

Ruellia tuberosa

Ruellia tuberosa

In Asian traditional medicine, Ruellia tuberosa is used to prevent stomach problems and also as a painkiller and fever reducer like aspirin. The plant can also be used to reduce sensitivity to painful stimulus like sun and salt spray and as an anti-inflammatory for any skin problems. Animal studies confirm in technical terms that the plant has analgesic, antipyretic, gastroprotective, antinociceptive, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has been used to counteract the effect of poisons.

This plaint is a native of North and South America but has been carried to Africa, Australia, and Indonesia.

Ixora coccinea

Ixora coccinea

In folkloric medicinal uses, Ixora has been used for treating dysenteric diarrhea and associated colic pains. A decoration of leaves for wounds and skin ulcers. Powdered roots moistened with a little water on a piece of lint is also applied to sores and chronic ulcers. This plant is one of the oldest it Asian Folk medicine and has been spread to five continents.

Research studies provide a strong backup for the wisdom of the Ancient people with regard to Ixora coccinea. Study of a root extract showed pronounced wound healing and antibacterial activity. It is proposed the external application of the extract prevented microbes from invading the wound. An aqueous extract showed moderate inhibition against all bacterial strains tested. Like Ruellia The extract was antiinflammatory and  antinociceptive. It was also fond to be a strong anti-ulcer compound like Tagamet. Results obtained in another study substantiate the antidiarrheal effect of the aqueous extract and its use by traditional practitioners in the treatment of diarrhea. The list of therapist benefits seems to go on as it protects against chemical contamination of the body, acts as an anti-asthmatic agent and protects the heart. This is truly the wonder drug of ancient man and it is everywhere in St. Croix.

Desmodium incanum

Desmodium incanum

This plant has been used as a diuretic and is good to settle the stomach including during seasickness. In Cuban folk medicine,it was considered an excellent hemostat, and was used in hospitals to heal wounds. It has been used as an analgesic and for fever reduction. Desmodium is a native of North and South America but now also grows in Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

About John Boyd

I have been hiking the hills and beaches of St. Croix, Virgin Islands for over 35 years and in retirement, decided to become a Heritage Hiking Guide specializing in the local history, geology, plant life and environmental changes that accompanied all groups of settlers over the last 3000 years. Unfortunately, aging of my body has temporarily limited my aggressive physical activity and I am using my intrinsic curiosity to explore the very obscure history of St. Croix prior to World War I. The oldest recorded History was dominated by the actions of Absolute European Monarchs who claimed ownership of the Island. Of course, all their actions were reported upon by official scribes who were controlled by censorship. Regardless of the outcome, reports were always positive until the king was dead and a new monarch crowned.
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1 Response to Flowers for Sailors

  1. Phillip Shannon says:

    Good Day John,

    I would like to talk to you about some hikes for a group next May. The planners will be on island this Friday and Saturday.


    Phillip Shannon

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